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Monday, 14 August 2017

Brutalism two: Town Hall House

This post is the second in a series of blogposts on brutalist architecture in Sydney. I took the first photos of the building, shown below, from Pyrmont Bridge, then I walked south along Kent Street and came to Town Hall House from its major street frontage.

In 1970 architects Archer Mortlock and Woolley were engaged to design a building to replace the nine-story office block the council had built in 1927, which housed the council’s Electricity Department, and a group of older buildings. Construction started in early 1972. In December 1974, the council accepted a tender in the sum of $8.9 million from Max Cooper and Sons for the completion of the building. The NSW governor, Sir Roden Cutler, opened the building on 28 June 1977. He said in his speech on the day:
Council saw the opportunity of providing a Civic Precinct in keeping with the importance of the City as the Capital City Council of New South Wales and the largest City in the Commonwealth. 
At the same time, it saw the need to house its staff in modern accommodation to enable Council’s obligations to its ratepayers to be made more effectively and efficiently.
The building won a Royal Australian Institute of Architects’ merit award in 1979.

At the time it was built Town Hall House was to house council staff on the first ten levels, with levels 11 to 23 leased to businesses. There was to be a public restaurant on level four. In May 1975 display ads for the restaurant lease were taken out in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. Level four now houses the Marconi Room and Southern Function Room, both of which can be booked for functions by the public.

Level four is connected to Town Hall by the Marconi Terrace, which contains a sculpture by Mike Kitching installed in 1976, and a pedestrian walkway. The building also includes part of the underground Town Hall Square Arcade, which connects Town Hall Station with St Andrews House (completed in 1976).

The foyer to Kent Street and the interior of the building were refurbished in 1997.

When he worked in the NSW Government Architect's Office Ken Woolley designed the State Office Block, which was opened in 1967 and demolished in 1997.

To research for this blogpost I visited the council’s archives on level 21 of the building. The staff there were very helpful, getting records for me and helping me to take photos of the building’s interior. I had to get one of them to go with me to the lobby to supervise taking of the interior shots because the security office asked me to do this.















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